New forestry and falcon partnership takes flight

Matthew Crapp and Fern the falcon.

A partnership between forestry and falcon has taken flight with a commitment from one of Marlborough’s largest forest managers to lead the local industry in protecting the endangered native species.

Merrill and Ring, managers of New Forests’ 4600-hectare Blenheim Estate, met with the Marlborough Falcon Trust and New Forests at the Trust’s breeding and rehabilitation aviary on Thursday to hand over a $5000 cheque and see the Trust’s work first-hand.

It’s a natural partnership, according to Merrill and Ring Manager Peter Gilbert, who says forest cut-over areas offer attractive conditions for falcons to nest.

Peter says they wanted to support the Trust’s efforts, and make sure their workers knew what to do if they find a nest.

“We are working with the Trust so that we can educate our own staff and contractors, so they know exactly what to do if they encounter a falcon or suspected nesting site. Our contractors will be doing training with the Trust in January.”

Peter wants to extend these learnings to the wider Marlborough forestry sector, and will be encouraging their contractors and connections to spread the word.

“The forestry sector has a role to play in saving our falcon species, and we want to drive that.”

The Trust’s Chair, Andy Frost, says support from the forestry industry is a crucial step in boosting falcon numbers.

“We’re really happy about this new partnership. Falcons do love to nest in exotic forests, and so getting forestry workers on board with our cause is a great thing.

“On Thursday we handed over Best Practice Forestry Guidelines from our sister organisation Wingspan. These guidelines will ensure forestry workers know what to do and who to call if they find a nest.”

There are approximately 6000 falcons left in New Zealand, says Andy.

“We always ask, how can we get that number to 7000? And it all comes down to education. This is a key step in ensuring an industry that is dealing with falcon nests is on board with our mission.”

Funding from Blenheim Estate Ltd, one of New Forests’ four New Zealand plantations, will also go towards helping the Trust gradually expand its work further across New Zealand.

New Forests’ Operations Manager for Softwood, Matthew Crapp, says the work with the Trust fits perfectly with New Forests’ sustainable approach to forestry investment.

“Our investment strategy has a strong focus on ensuring operations are environmentally beneficial. We’re always looking at how we can support environmental, social and development outcomes – and this is a perfect example of how we like to cooperatively work toward regional conservation goals.”

New Forests is Australasia’s leading sustainable forestry investment manager, and has been operating in New Zealand since 2005. They currently manage plantation estates in Taupo, Wairarapa, Southland and Blenheim, totalling 18,800 hectares.

Other initiatives underway on the Blenheim Estate include work to restore the native Mountain Totara species and the introduction of innovative health and safety reporting technology.